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Korean stem cell researcher admits 2004 research fake

By Kim Tae-gyu, The Korea Times, Jan 9, 2006

Seoul, South Korea -- Korean cloning scientist Hwang Woo-suk admitted the embryonic stem cells documented in a Science article in February 2004 were faked, according to the Kyeongin Ilbo Monday.

The Suwon-based newspaper reported Hwang had confirmed the fact after conducting DNA tests with the stem cells at issue during an exclusive interview with the newspaper.

``Hwang and his researchers said that DNA fingerprint traces of stem cells kept in their lab did not match those of cells featured in Science,’’ the newspaper noted.

``Based on the results, a member of Hwang’s team suspected that the cloned stem cell line in the 2004 paper might be stolen or just a bogus,’’ it said.

That claim is in tune with Hwang’s remarks that stem cells described in the 2004 article were swapped with other cells. He raised the doubts late last month via an interview with a Buddhist newspaper.

In this climate, experts expect there is a high probability that Seoul National University (SNU), where Hwang works, will announce a lack of evidence to verify the authenticity of the 2004 paper.

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Stem cell researcher denies fabrication: Buddhist Newspaper

The Seoul-based university plans to issue the final report today to conclude its month-long review of Hwang’s works on cloned stem cells and a dog clone, named Snuppy.

Also included in the comprehensive report is whether Hwang and his colleagues retain source technologies of cloning human cells to grow stem cell batches from them.

A nine-member investigative panel at SNU already announced late last month that Hwang’s 2005 Science paper on tailor-made stem cells are outright falsified and have conducted follow-up probes on two other breakthroughs of Hwang.

Hwang claimed to have established a cloned human embryonic stem cell line in Science journal in 2004. His purported exploits also include the first canine clone announced via Nature last year.

As Hwang’s falsifications continue to come to light, pessimists about Hwang’s work outnumber optimists.

``At the moment, the best scenario would be this: Hwang did clone a dog and his team retains source technologies for the human therapeutic cloning. I cannot expect a better report,’’ said Park Se-pill, head at Seoul-based fertility clinic Maria Biotech.

Park became a globally illustrious embryologist by deriving human stem cells from frozen eggs in 2000 for the third time in history.

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